Australian nasal airway and respiratory technology specialist Rhinomed (ASX: RNO) has announced it is developing a new-generation nasal swab capable of collecting samples to test for the presence of upper respiratory tract diseases, including influenza and coronavirus strains.
Leveraging the learnings from its Mute (anti-snoring), Pronto (anti-nasal congestion and sleep improvement) and Turbine (improved breathing for sports) nasal devices, the company is creating the swab to have “compelling benefits” over products currently on the market.
It will use standard electrostatically-flocked nylon to capture sample material from a greater surface area of the nose than standard nasopharyngeal swabs with Rhinomed claiming it will be less invasive and more comfortable.
Each swab will be able to collect samples from both nostrils simultaneously, offering the potential for a more effective diagnostic sample and making it a unique product in its field.
Rhinomed chief executive officer Michael Johnson said the swabs can be self-administered in the home, workplace or clinical setting, reducing the risk of infection for healthcare workers and reducing the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE) for employers.
“An increasing body of evidence and research supports the proposition that mass, high-frequency testing could be a vital tool in managing epidemics, pandemics and infectious disease outbreaks,” he said.
“We believe that an effective, easy-to-use and comfortable nasal swab that everyone can use, every day, could play an important role in achieving this outcome.”
Rhinomed’s swab can be worn for a predetermined time and has been designed to fit into existing vials and work with existing pathology workflows.
“It is possible that this type of [device] – when coupled with existing and emerging pathology solutions – could play a vital part in interrupting coronavirus transmission,” Mr Johnson said.
Rhinomed’s existing nasal products have been marketed since 2016 and are currently supplied to more than 20,000 stores worldwide including Walgreens, Boots and Amazon.
The company is investigating conventional manufacturing and additive manufacturing (3D printing) solutions for the new nasal swab. Local and offshore production options are also being considered.
The swab will be registered in Australia, the United States and the European Union as a Class 1 medical device.
Mr Johnson said work has begun on defining the protocol for a clinical trial to be carried out at a leading Melbourne hospital.
“We are advancing discussions with potential commercial partners in respect to the program [and] we will announce further details in due course as they are finalised,” he said.